Dustin Schroeder: How we look kilometers below the Antarctic ice sheet
Dustin Schroeder develops and uses geophysical radar to study Antarctica, Greenland and the icy moons of Jupiter. Full bio
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to study glaciers and ice sheets.
to sea level rise in the future.
on sea level rise,
the way we think about radar technology
talk about sea level rise,
and climate models.
the range of sea level
over the next 100 years.
could be vulnerable to displacement.
is already large.
with the asterisk and the caveat,
Ice Sheet collapses."
about dramatically higher numbers.
that possibility seriously
history of the Earth
much more quickly than today.
happening in the future.
of a continent-scale ice sheet
conditions and physics
in a collapse like that.
and conditions are taking place
that produced this image,
observations of the surface of Mars
the Antarctic ice sheet.
in that we need these observations
in both space and time.
and Great Lakes regions are very distinct,
regions of Antarctica.
the timescale of millennia and centuries,
over the scale of years and days.
beneath kilometers of ice
to the subsurface.
that I was a radio glaciologist,
is the main tool we have
is collected by airplanes
in the Battle of the Bulge.
underneath the wing.
radar signals down into the ice.
and beneath the ice sheet.
are on the airplane
scientists peering out the window,
its geologic context
"Frozen Planet" on one of these flights.
videotaping us turn knobs.
years later with my wife,
and I commented on how beautiful it was.
on that flight?"
at a computer screen."
about this type of fieldwork,
a vertical profile through the ice sheet,
is the surface of the ice sheet,
is the bedrock of the continent itself,
are kind of like tree rings,
about the history of the ice sheet.
that this works this well.
radars that are used
or detect land mines
a few meters of earth.
through three kilometers of ice.
electromagnetic reasons for that,
is basically the perfect target for radar,
the perfect tool to study ice sheets.
of heroic efforts over decades
and international collaborations.
you get an image like this,
of Antarctica would look like
of the continent in an image like this.
are volcanoes or mountains;
would be open ocean
that took decades to produce
of how the ice sheet is changing in time.
because it turns out
of Antarctica were collected
of reels of this film
of the Scott Polar Research Institute
a state-of-the-art film scanner
Hollywood films and remastering them,
put on some gloves
all of that film.
on analyzing and processing
conditions in the ice sheet.
I found out about it
of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
under the ice sheet 50 years ago,
or seasonal scale,
radar systems that stay in one spot.
and put them on the ice sheet
for months or years at a time,
into the ice sheet
continuous observation in time --
pictures provided by the airplane,
where we are as a field right now.
good spatial coverage
with ground-based sounding.
of observing the ice sheet.
of measurements from lots of sensors.
is the power required
to use existing radio systems
that are in the environment.
of radio astronomy
are bright radio signals in the sky.
things my group is doing right now
from the sun as a type of radar signal.
some undergrads in my lab built.
is that we stay out at Big Sur,
in radio frequencies,
of the sun off the surface of the ocean.
"There are no glaciers at Big Sur."
the reflection of the sun
off the bottom of an ice sheet
measurement principle in Antarctica.
as far-fetched as it seems.
a similar technique-development exercise,
from detonating dynamite as a source,
in the environment.
and radio signals all the time,
a signal of radar
this might really work.
extremely low-cost sensors
or thousands of these on an ice sheet
have really aligned to help us.
engineers over the course of years
in software-defined radio,
for a team of teenagers
of a handful of months
they’re Stanford undergrads,
are letting us break down the barrier
and scientists that use them.
to think like earth scientists
who can think like engineers,
we can build custom radar sensors
and high performance
the way we observe ice sheets.
of the cryosphere in sea level rise
to teach and mentor
that teams of hypertalented,
facing the world,
required to estimate sea level rise
they can and will solve.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERDustin Schroeder - Radio glaciologist
Dustin Schroeder develops and uses geophysical radar to study Antarctica, Greenland and the icy moons of Jupiter.
Why you should listen
Dustin Schroeder draws on techniques and approaches from defense technologies, telecommunication, resource exploration and radio astronomy to understand the evolution and stability of ice sheets and their contributions to sea level rise. He is an assistant professor of geophysics and (by courtesy) of electrical engineering at Stanford University where he is also an affiliate of the Woods Institute for the Environment. He has participated in three Antarctic field seasons with the ICECAP project and NASA’s Operation Ice Bridge.
Schroeder is a Science Team Member on the Radar for Europa Assessment and Sounding: Ocean to Near-surface (REASON) instrument on NASA's Europa Clipper Mission and the Mini-RF instrument on NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). He is also the Chair of the Earth and Space Sciences Committee for the National Science Olympiad.
Dustin Schroeder | Speaker | TED.com